ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Half a century ago farmers grew rice, sesame and pulses on the land around Myint Soe’s village in Myanmar. Now only paddy fields remain.

Technology has made farming easier but government policy and climate change have slashed the foods produced by villagers which they fear is killing them when combined with the explosion in fast-food.

“Now we don’t know where the oils we eat come from because we buy what’s quick and cheap and easy,” said Myint Soe, 59.

He said many people are suffering from cancer, hardening of the arteries and other ailments, likely caused by eating low-quality oil, sugary drinks, salty snacks and instant noodles.

Fellow farmer Kyaw Lin, 47, said younger, thinner people were now having strokes.

What is happening in Thar Yar Su is just a microcosm of one of the world’s biggest problems – deadly diets, which have now overtaken smoking as the world’s biggest killer.

Data shows one in five deaths worldwide in 2017 was linked to unhealthy diets in both poor and rich countries as burgers and soda replaced traditional diets and a warming planet impacted the variety of crops grown.

Read more at Reuters